The Anime Appeal
It's pretty obvious I'm obsessed with anime and manga. I don't even bother denying it. I don't think I have a problem, and my life is pretty under control, but I do know some people who cannot function in society because of their obsession with anime. They seem to sometimes get confused between fantasy or reality - something that if it were to happen to anyone else, they would be considered a schizophrenic.
Or worse yet, they become a Hikikomori - a shut in, isolating themselves from others to indulge in their obsession.
So what is it about anime that would make people give up so much of their lives?
The "A" Factor
Action. Even some of the mellowest, romantic animes and mangas have action, and some of the more extreme ones have several consecutive episodes devoted to single action sequences and battle scenes (Dragonball anyone???). Now, I personally am not a fan of the 'action' genre as such, but even in the more shojo style (mangas and shows geared towards girls, in which the driving force behind the story is usually romantic in nature) there are wonderful action sequences that are very useful to pushing the plot forward. Sailor Moon has them in spades, and even Oh my Goddess! has a three episode battle near the end of season one. And it's not just simply action for the sake of action. It helps push the plot forward and allows us to understand the characters a bit more.
Let's face it. These are ideas we wished we'd come up with:
- Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: A young girl has the powers of a god - to destroy and create worlds - but she doesn't know it. So it is up to a group of extraordinary students to keep her happy before she accidentally recreates the world.
- To Love Ru: A young boy accidentally becomes engaged to a princess from outer space, and must find a way to break off the wedding before it drives a wedge between him and his true love
- Pokémon: Okay, let's just classify this as fantasy and if for no other reason, wish we could have come up with this idea for the millions of dollars
The fact is, these are some amazing fantasy ideas. and you'll only find them in anime.
Relatability of the Characters
Despite some of the fantastic fantasy that occurs, they still somehow manage to make the characters persons you can relate to. I can relate, for example, to Haruhi - The god-like character mentioned above. Who doesn't wish every now and then that the world was more exciting - like in the mangas! Or Ash from Pokémon: who doesn't work and train hard with the hope of one day achieving their dream? Who hasn't had to struggle with an ailing loved one, such as the family in My Neighbor Totoro?
We may not all face literal demons every single day, or go off in search of long extinct species of animals, or live next door to vampire, but the struggles that the characters face in these circumstances are really not all that unlike our own.
The Anime Anthem
I guess the total sum of why I became an Otaku is in this song on youtube. It's a parody to the Lucky Star theme "Motteke Sailor Fuku!" which is fitting, because it's an anime about anime.
I hope this helps with understanding why Anime has become so popular. there are more reasons, so perhaps I'll write on those in the future. Arigato and Bye-Byiees!